"Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed Aim is to find any would-be terrorists"

Hi Gang:
I was sent the Washington Times news report that is the predication of my commentary today by an old friend and former colleague of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) who served in a high position in management of that agency.
While I may be sending out commentaries and attempting to get my voice heard in the media to warn our fellow citizens and fellow Americans about the ongoing failures of our government to truly secure our nation’s borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity to protect our nation and those who live in, work in, or visit our country, I can most assuredly tell you that many of my former colleagues are every bit as angry, concerned and frustrated by the myriad failings of virtually every administration regardless of the party they were affiliated with.
When I was sent this article and saw the headline, my first thought was, “Why is this obvious area of vulnerability that was identified by the 9/11 Commission, now being discussed publicly?”
As I began reading the article, the answer became readily apparent- DHS, an agency I have come to refer to as the Department of Homeland Surrender was providing testimony to a Senate oversight hearing.  They needed to find a way of claiming they are keeping our nation secure.
The hearing was actually predicated upon a GAO Report that was extremely critical of how DHS protects our nation where aliens who are admitted via the inspections process and then overstay their authorized period of admission and may even be involved in supporting or committing acts of terrorism or criminal activities that threaten our nation and our people.
Let me tell you that today’s commentary will be long, even by my standards.  I will, however not apologize for the length of the commentary.  The topic is as serious as it gets- it deals with a search for potential terrorists who may have infiltrated our nation and the testimony a high-ranking member of the administration provided a Senate oversight hearing.
I could simply tell you we are standing waist high in dung and leave it at that- but I suspect you already know how perilous our situation is.  I ask that given the nature of the material we are dealing with that you take the time to read it all- even if you need to take a break while reading it.
The official who provided testimony at the hearing is a career government official by the name of Rand Beers.  I don’t know him personally, but while I honor the fact that according to his resume that he served in the United States Marines- when you truly delve into his professional career, many questions about our nation’s preparedness prior to 9/11 certainly come to mind.  We will address this issue a bit later on.
The focus on the hearing was efforts made to locate aliens who may have overstayed their authorized period of time in the United States and may be involved in terrorism.  of course while they addressed the issue of aliens who overstayed their visas and how  applications are being reviewed.  I want to start out by providing you with some really disturbing facts that appeared, less than three months ago, in a GAO report that, with an additional GAO report, served as the predication for the very same hearing reported upon in the  issued in April 2011 and.was entitled:
Report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate visas
OVERSTAY ENFORCEMENT
Additional Mechanisms for Collecting, Assessing, and Sharing Data Could Strengthen DHS’s Efforts but Would Have Costs
Here is a link to that report:
Here is an excerpt from the introduction of that GAO report:
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DHS takes actions to address a small portion of the estimated overstay population due to, among other things, competing priorities; however, these efforts could be enhanced by improved planning and performance management. Since fiscal year 2006, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the principle DHS component responsible for overstay enforcement, has allocated about 3 percent of its investigative work hours to overstay investigations and its Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU), which prioritizes and investigates possible overstays, has arrested approximately 8,100 overstays. 
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Please go back and re-read that paragraph- 

“…(ICE), the principle DHS component responsible for overstay enforcement, has allocated about 3 percent of its investigative work hours to overstay investigations and its Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU), which prioritizes and investigates possible overstays, has arrested approximately 8,100 overstays.” 

In a five year period nearly 100 million aliens were admitted into the United States under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)!  In that same period, according to the GAO, 36 million aliens were admitted with nonimmigrant visas.  Furthermore, ICE has allocated just 3% of its incredibly meager resources to locate and, presumably, arrest aliens who violated the terms of their admission!  
This is the equivalent of having a handful of workers given toy pails and brought to the beach and told to get rid of all of the sand on the beach!
Every time the tide comes in, more sand comes in than the workers could have removed the previous day!
The second and more recent GAO report that was noted in the Washington Times report was issued last month and was entitled:

Report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
DHS Has Implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, but Further Steps Needed to Address Potential Program Risks

Here is the link to this report, that focused on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
Consider statement from the Washington Times news report:
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On Tuesday, the GAO released a report that says foreign countries in some cases did not share fingerprint data with the United States used as part of the visa issuance process. In Pakistan, for example,fingerprint records are stored in a central database but not all government agencies have access to it.

In other cases, foreign governments lacked the ability to detect passport fraud or suffered from corruption among their own consular officers, the report says.

“The U.S. government still lacks an effective system for measuring and reporting progress toward the goal of enhancing our foreign partners’ capacity,” the report says.

The issue of terrorists obtaining visas is particularly important in light of the would-be bomber on a Christmas Day 2009 flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was a Nigerian national whose father had warned the U.S. Embassy about his son before the attack. That information, however, was not available to U.S. consular officers or airlines before he boarded the plane, which he attempted to destroy in flight using a bomb hidden in his underwear.

Mr. Beers said his department remains focused on trying to develop common international standards for biometric data such as fingerprints. He also said the department is working closely with a number of foreign countries.

The GAO report specifically states that while the United States offered several anti-corruption programs to foreign countries, no such programs addressed the problem of passport fraud. 

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All of these issues take my breath away!  
Here is a paragraph from first of the two GAO reports provided above:
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Each year, millions of visitors come to the United States legally on a temporary basis. From fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2010, the State Department issued over 36 million nonimmigrant visas.  Approximately 82 percent of these visas were issued to nonimmigrants for business travel, pleasure, tourism, medical treatment, or for foreign and cultural exchange student programs. In addition, from fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2010, over 98 million visitors were admitted to the United States under the VWP. 
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As usual, when you parse the sentences and plow through the statements to find the hidden meanings, rather than finding comfort in what Rand Beers, the witness provided by DHS to testify at the hearing had to say, you actually realize just how thin the ice is that our nation is standing upon!
Speaking of “ICE,” as you know those three initials are an acronym for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  That beleaguered and overwhelmed agency lacks to the resources, leadership and political backing to accomplish its critical goals.
There are fewer than 7,000 Special Agents employed by ICE and at least half of them are engaged in enforcing customs laws and not immigration laws.  Furthermore most of the leadership at ICE from Headquarters down to local field offices, came from Legacy Customs and not the former INS- these leaders have little experience with or inclination to enforce the immigration laws.  If you doubt this, consider that on April 18, 2011, less than 3 months ago, the official ICE website posted a story that was entitled:

“Top Story: New organization preserves U.S. Customs Service history”

Here is the link to the article:

I have yet to see a similar report touting a new organization touting the preservation of U.S.Immigration and Naturalization Service history being posted on any official website!


On May 5, 2005 I was called to testify before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims at a hearing that was convened to consider the following topic:
NEW ”DUAL MISSIONS” OF THE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

The hearing was called to assess how well DHS was operating.   The creation of DHS also called for splitting the enforcement agencies down the middle.  Prior to the creation of DHS all INS employees worked for the same agency.  This included the Border Patrol, the INS Special Agents, the INS Deportation Officers, the Immigration Inspectors and other employees.
For U.S. Customs, the Customs Inspectors and the Customs Special Agents were all part of the former U.S. Customs Service.
Under DHS ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) contained a number of law enforcement agencies but the United States Border Patrol and the Inspectors became part of a separate agency known as CBP (Customs and Border Protection).
I was not alone in my great concerns about this unwieldy and, I believed then and continue to believe now is an unworkable agency known as the DHS.
Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing, in its entirety:

I am a Senior Fellow at CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization).  Several weeks ago a posted a commentary on their website that focused on the dangers that the Visa Waiver Program expose our nation and our citizens to.
My commentary was entitled:

“Visa Waiver Program Endangers our Safety and Security”
Here is a link to that commentary:
With this background information having been considered, lets now delve into the news report that prompted my commentary today.

The very first sentence talks about how DHS is scrutinizing some 750,000 applications for visas in the effort to identify terrorists and other individuals whose presence in our country pose a threat to our security and survival.  Here are some questions that must be asked:

1.  How could a terrorist be granted a visa?  If the terrorist gamed the system to secure a visa, how would our officials now know that they are terrorists now?
2.  How did only 750,000 visa applications become the focus of this scrutiny- many more aliens are admitted into our country each and every year.
3.  How far back were some of these aliens admitted into our country?
4.  Why is it that US-VISIT, a program that was devised many years ago to track the arrival and departure of aliens is still not effective in determining if an alien has departed from the United States?  You must consider that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on this program that the 9/11 Commission defined as a major priority for the United States in the wake of the terrorist attacks committed nearly a decade ago.  You should also note that Accenture, a spinoff of the Arthur Andersen Accounting firm was given an extremely lucrative contract to implement  US-VISIT and that the headquarters for Accenture was, until two years ago, based in Hamilton, Bermuda- a “tax haven” country.  Today Accenture is based in Dublin, Ireland it is not an American company but clearly an “off shore” company!
Here are two informative links about Accenture:
This is the article about Accenture that appears on Wikipedia:

Here is the link to Accenture’s home page: 

http://www.accenture.com/ie-en/Pages/index.aspx

5.  How is it that DHS now claims that there are fewer than 2 million foreign visitors who had overstayed their authorized period of admission in the United States while within the last year the government estimated that nearly 5 million such alien visitors had overstayed and my sources tell me that the number may actually be twice as large?
6.  The report focused on employees of DHS culling through hundreds of thousands of applications for visas to try to determine who may have departed the United States and which of those who failed to depart might pose a threat to our safety.  By what mechanism are they determining if an alien is a threat?  How can DHS claim that they are engaged in this search through the huge haystack in search of some potentially extremely deadly needles when the resources allocated to locating and arresting visa violators could not keep up with the arrival of new visa violators if they simply ignored the millions of such violators who are already here and likely well embedded in communities across our nation?
7.  There was no mention in the testimony provided in the news report, of the extremely dangerous and wrong-headed Visa Waiver Program.  Is anything being done to try to figure out if any of the millions of nonimmigrant visitors who enter our country without even first applying for and receiving a visa are still in the United States and, if so, if they pose a threat?  At least when an alien enters the United States with a visa, there is an application to review.  Under the insanely stupid Visa Waiver Program, there are no visa applications!  There would be virtually nothing to review!  I have been told that at some major international airports, the great majority, perhaps as high as 75% of all nonimmigrants are actually admitted into our country under the Visa Waiver Program!  The GAO report I noted above certainly provided a clear picture of how many aliens from Visa Waiver Program countries are being admitted!
8.  Why was the GAO using the statistics provided by the Pew Hispanic Center concerning the number of nonimmigrant visitors who failed to depart from the United States as required under the terms of their admission into our country?  Shouldn’t the folks at the Department of Homeland Surrender have the information at their fingertips, “in-house?”
Now let’s get to Mr. Beers.  He has been involved with our government and national security issues for many years and, reportedly within several administrations in lofty positions.
While it may not always be the most authoritative source of information, Wikipedia provides a bio for Mr. Beers.  Here is what is, in part provided on that website:

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Rand Beers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Robert “Rand” Beers
Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate
Assumed office
June 19, 2009
President
Deputy
Phillip Reitger
Preceded by
Robert D. Jamison
Personal details
Born
Washington D.C.
Spouse(s)
Bonnie Beers
Dartmouth College B.A. & University of Michigan M.A.
Military service
Service/branch
United States Marine Corps
Rand Beers was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On June 19, 2009, Beers was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to direct NPPD’s integrated efforts to reduce risks to physical, cyber and communications infrastructures. NPPD collaborates with all levels of government, the private sector, non-government organizations, and international bodies to prevent, respond to, and mitigate threats to U.S. national security from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events.

As Under Secretary for NPPD, Beers oversees the coordinated operational and policy functions of the Directorate’s subcomponents – Federal Protective Service (FPS), Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C), Infrastructure Protection (IP), Risk Management and Analysis (RMA), and the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program – in support of the Department’s critical mission.

Beers has served as Counselor to Secretary Janet Napolitano since January 21, 2009 and will continue in that capacity while directing the activities of NPPD. Before his appointment, he was the co-leader of the Department of Homeland Security Transition Team for the incoming Obama administration. Prior to the 2008 election, Beers was president of the National Security Network, a network of experts seeking to foster discussion of progressive national security ideas around the country, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, starting both in 2004.

Beers began his professional career as a Marine officer and rifle company commander in Vietnam (1964–1968). He entered the Foreign Service in 1971 and transferred to the Civil Service in 1983. He served most of his career in the Department of State, including as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Affairs in the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, focusing on the Middle East and Persian Gulf (1992–1993). He was Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (1998–2002).

Beers also served on the NSC Staff under the previous four Presidents: Director for Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics (1988–1992), Director for Peacekeeping (1993–1995), and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs (1995–1998), and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism on the NSC Staff (2002–2003). He resigned from the NSC Staff in March 2003, retired from government service in April 2003, and served as national security advisor for the KerryEdwards campaign (2003–2004).


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My concern is that our nation was attacked by terrorists twice in 1993.  He was reportedly heavily involved within the intelligence community from 1993 until 2003 and went on to serve as the national security advisor for the Kerry-Edwards campaign after that.
The two terrorist attacks of 1993 involved a number of aliens who had all managed to game the visa system and the immigration benefits program.  I obviously have no way of knowing if he had provided advice to the Clinton administration that made it clear that visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were the reasons why those terrorists were able to enter our country and/or embed themselves in our country prior to those attacks.  Certainly, however, he should have come to understand these important vulnerabilities.
Here we are nearly ten years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and more than 18 years after the terrorist attacks of 1993 and our nation’s borders, in many places only exist on maps.  The immigration system lacks a shred of real integrity and the number of Visa Waiver Countries continues to increase while US-VISIT remains a work in progress after nearly a decade and the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars- much of it paid to a global company that is not even based in the United States!
Here is, again, the paragraph from his bio about his current involvement with US-VISIT:
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As Under Secretary for NPPD, Beers oversees the coordinated operational and policy functions of the Directorate’s subcomponents – Federal Protective Service (FPS), Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C), Infrastructure Protection (IP), Risk Management and Analysis (RMA), and the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program – in support of the Department’s critical mission.

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I want you to please stop and think about what happens at an airport when a hapless passenger inadvertently opens a door he (she) is not supposed to and alarms go off.  Everything comes to a screeching halt!  Flights may be delayed by hours and the delays may ripple across our nation’s aviation system if not the world’s aviation system.  Airlines lose thousands of dollars for every minute a jumbo jet sits on the runway or at a gate, unable to take to the skies.  An airliner on the ground does not generate money but costs money.  Yet, in the name of “National Security” this is the way things are done today at of what we want to believe is an abundance of caution.
A 95 year old, wheelchair bound passenger who is so old and so frail that she is forced to wear an adult diaper.  She gets frisked in the name of national security and, when the TSA agent apparently feels something in this elderly woman’s diaper (perhaps it was brown and smelly!) the search becomes more intensive- in the name of “National Security!”
 We have given up most of our expectations of privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment in the name of “National Security!”
Yet the fact that millions upon millions of illegal aliens now live and work in virtually every community across this vast nation and their true identities are unknown and unknowable yet the administration has now ordered the few Special Agents of ICE to avoid arresting most of them because of some arbitrary set of rules under the aegis of “Prosecutorial Discretion” and immigration counsels, the administrative equivalent of prosecutors are similarly being ordered to seek the termination of deportation (removal) proceedings against the vast majority of these illegal aliens- where is the concern about “National Security?”
How can a high ranking member of the administration go before a United States Senate Committee hearing and testify how a handful of DHS and intelligence officials are protecting our nation from the threat of the next terrorist attack by culling through hundreds of thousands of visa applications while we know that the number of visa violators in our country numbers in the millions with more arriving daily?  How can he make those statements when he knows damned well that aliens admitted under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program, which account for the majority of nonimmigrant visitors, did not even fill out visa applications in the first place?
Does he lack mouth / ear coordination?  Do his ears even hear the words uttered by his mouth?
Where is the concern about “National Security?” 
Additionally, consider that the administration is now apparently considering increasing the number of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program.
On May 26th, just a few weeks ago, the Washington Times published a news report that was entitled:

“Warsaw wants in on U.S. visa waivers Poles to press Obama in visit”

I was interviewed for that news report- you can find the entire article at:


On May 11, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations on the topic:

VISA OVERSTAYS:

CAN WE BAR THE TERRORIST DOOR?”

You can read the transcript of that hearing at:



Here is a link to a CNN report that was titled, “Tracking Down Visa Violators:”


Casey Wian and his producer, Sara Weisfeldt interviewed me for this report and I appear briefly on screen.

On May 10, 2010 I was interviewed by Daniel Gonzalez, a reporter with the Arizona Republic for an news report titled, “U.S. not cracking down on immigrants with expired visas.” Here is the link to the news report in which I was quoted:

I am, yet again, forced to ask, where is the concern about “National Security?”
Even more importantly- what will our government really do to address these huge vulnerabilities before we are attacked again?

A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

I

our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!


We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  

My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.

The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.

If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!


The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to get involved!

I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world.  However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If our government’s failures to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!


-michael cutler- 



Please check out my website:

Additionally- this summer, on Friday afternoons from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time, I will be filling in for Tom Garcia as the host on The USA Talk Radio Network’s excellent radio show, “The American Hour.”



I hope you will be joining my cohost, Paula Lauzon Ostman and me, on Fridays this summer!

Here is the link for this program:


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jul/13/visas-reviewed-to-find-those-who-overstayed/#.TiMniZ96LSg.email

Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed

Aim is to find any would-be terrorists


Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security

Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security

7:52 p.m., Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Department of Homeland Securityand U.S. intelligence agencies are combing through some 750,000 visas of foreign visitors to find out if any remain in the United States and if they pose terrorism or other security risks.

“The goal of this ongoing effort is not only to identify which individuals have overstayed their visas, but also to prioritize investigation and removal actions for those that may pose  a threat to national security,” said Rand Beers, homeland security’s counterterrorism coordinator, during a Senate hearing Wednesday.

The hearing coincided with the release of a critical report by the congressional Government Accountability Office on numerous security shortfalls in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The report, which covered all U.S. visas in the government’s database, was made public in April and says 1.6 million people potentially had overstayed their visas. Mr. Beers said an automated audit showed that 843,000 of those already had left the U.S.

After the GAO issued that report, Mr. Beers said the department formed a task force “to address the backlog of unvetted potential visa overstays” identified in the report.

The Obama administration scored successes overseas in degrading al Qaeda by killing Osama bin Laden and several other senior leaders. At the same time, recent reports and audits of the Department of Homeland Security show major gaps in the system for keeping potential terrorists and other bad actors out of the United States.

On Tuesday, the GAO released a report that says foreign countries in some cases did not share fingerprint data with the United States used as part of the visa issuance process. In Pakistan, for example,fingerprint records are stored in a central database but not all government agencies have access to it.

In other cases, foreign governments lacked the ability to detect passport fraud or suffered from corruption among their own consular officers, the report says.

“The U.S. government still lacks an effective system for measuring and reporting progress toward the goal of enhancing our foreign partners’ capacity,” the report says.

The issue of terrorists obtaining visas is particularly important in light of the would-be bomber on a Christmas Day 2009 flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was a Nigerian national whose father had warned the U.S. Embassy about his son before the attack. That information, however, was not available to U.S. consular officers or airlines before he boarded the plane, which he attempted to destroy in flight using a bomb hidden in his underwear.

Mr. Beers said his department remains focused on trying to develop common international standards for biometric data such as fingerprints. He also said the department is working closely with a number of foreign countries.

The GAO report specifically states that while the United States offered several anti-corruption programs to foreign countries, no such programs addressed the problem of passport fraud.

Janice Jacobs, the assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, said in testimony that the State Department and elements of the Department of Homeland Security work with foreign partners on training them to detect passport fraud.

During questioning, Ms. Jacobs said she had made it a priority to post senior consular officers at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, despite the recent departure of non-essential staff at that embassy. Yemen’s territory is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that U.S. intelligence officials have said has a desire and capability to launch attacks in the United States.

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